|System: Wii (WiiWare)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Akaoni Studio||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Akaoni Studio||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 3, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
When it comes to shooters, zombies and Nazis are the coal that keeps gameplay going. Though Wii owners won't be whisked back to World War II in this downloadable adventure from Akaoni Studio, Zombie Panic in Wonderland offers plenty of undead action at an affordable price.
Zombie Panic in Wonderland is presented as a naughty take on various American fairy tales, namely The Wizard of Oz and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Scented dwarves have attracted hordes of "amorous" zombies, and it's up to the young hero, Momotaro, to help his friends save Wonderland. The tale is told by way of a smattering of comic-book-style still art, and the entire presentation reeks of pre-pubescent sexual fantasy. The story is ridiculous, with a few parts stupid, but it's impossible to deny the game's charm and appeal.
Cutscenes and silliness aside, Zombie Panic is an easy-to-pick-up-and-play, third-person shooter. You won't be moving freely through the environments - it's not even on-rails - you simply move your character from side to side (á la Space Invaders), shooting the undead menace and laying waste to everything and anything around you.
Without a doubt, the developers seem to have been inspired by 2008's Zombie BBQ for the Nintendo DS. You've got all flavors of zombies, from ghouls who rise up next to you in an attempt to rob you of your brains, to skull-lobbing skeletons and blubbering fatties who charge toward you from afar. There's a lot of action to keep up with, and each zombie has a specific weak spot you'll need to target.
The game is broken up into short levels that require you to "clean up" a certain amount of zombies in the area; once your clean-up gauge is full, you'll move on to the next level. Both the story mode and arcade run you through the same levels, though in arcade you can select individual levels for a quick session of zombie destruction. There's also an online leaderboard where you can view and upload high scores.
Though Momotaro is presented as a sort of ninja-come-lately, guns are the business of Zombie Panic in Wonderland. The default machine gun has infinite ammo, and there's also a heavy machine gun, flame thrower, and grenades, all of which require refilling from power-ups dropped randomly by defeated zombies.
The controls are mapped smartly and feel pretty good, considering the gameplay on offer here. You'll be using both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, and the pointer functionality for aiming is precise and fluid. Movement of your character is mapped to the analog stick; you can dodge incoming attacks by pressing the Z button, change weapons on the fly with the C button, fire with B, and lob grenades with the A button - no waggling required.
Zombie Panic in Wonderland can be a fun, mindless shooter, and it has plenty of great, little touches of silliness and sexuality. Destroying environments is somewhat satisfying, but for the most part, gameplay comes down to a simple a matter of holding down the B button whilst staying clear of incoming projectiles. The game's a one-trick pony, and after just a few minutes of play, the shooting starts to get old.
The only real respite you'll get from repetition comes from the small handful of boss encounters sprinkled throughout the game. Though they're not all winners, some of the boss fights are surprisingly entertaining for a downloadable adventure. Most bosses offer a fun, multi-tiered challenge, but the difficulty of the game's latter levels feels a bit arbitrary and unfair.